Rev. Haak is pastor of Bethel Protestant Reformed Church in Elk Grove Village, Illinios.
After the two days of enjoying the spiritual harvest in Samaria the Lord returns to Galilee. It is in Galilee that the majority of the time of His earthly ministry will be spent. The reason for this move is that the Lord Himself knew that a prophet has no honor in his own country. Some explain this to mean that the Lord knew that His ministry must be one of rejection and scorn, and He therefore labors in that country where such rejection will be His (Heb. 12:3; Is. 49:4). Although there is truth in that idea, it seems that the meaning of verses 43 and 44 is simply that in His own country, i.e., Nazareth, He had been rejected; and so He will now center his work in the broader areas of Galilee itself. (Compare Luke 4:16ff., the incident of His rejection in Nazareth, which must have been the first thing that happened to Him when He returned from Samaria.)
The reception He receives in Galilee is however not one rooted in the faith that He is God’s Son, but rather in the things they have seen Him do in Jerusalem. His popularity with many people hinges on the signs and miracles He performs. This is why He speaks as He does in verse 48. (Note that He says “ye,” plural, a reference to the Galileans. He is saying to the nobleman, Do you too belong to the company of wonder seekers?) Later in His ministry He will speak even more pointedly against those who follow Him for the external signs and not because He is the Son of God, the only Savior from sin. (See Luke 11:29; Matthew 16:1-4.)
A nobleman (royal officer) from Capemaum comes to Cana with the request that He will heal his son who is at the point of death. The man believes that Jesus is a great miracle worker and that His presence at his son’s sick bed is the last and only hope. The Lord is concerned that this true child of God have his faith directed to who He is and to the Word He speaks and not be centered in Him as someone who is able to do great miracles. Thus, the Lord’s mild rebuke in verse 48 is intended to drive this man’s faith to something deeper than signs and wonders. This is also the result of Christ’s words to him. The man obeys Christ’s command to return home and believes the word that Christ has spoken to him, namely, “Thy son liveth.”
Jesus reveals His divine omniscience and omnipresent power in healing the son at that very moment even though sixteen miles separated Cana and Capemaum. When the nobleman returns home and is informed of the recovery of his son, he takes note of the fact that it happened at the very moment Christ spoke the word. Both he and his household believe.
We are taught at least two outstanding principles:
1. Faith is founded on the Word of God concerning His Son and not on signs. Signs confirm faith, they never produce faith.
2. When God saves a man He also works in covenant mercy in the lives of his household.
1. Jesus enters Galilee (vv. 43-46).
a. The reason for His going to Galilee (v. 44).
b. The apparently eager reception the Galileans give Him (v. 45).
c. His return to Cana of Galilee (v. 46).
2. The encounter with the nobleman (vv. 47-50a).
a. The nobleman’s request to heal his son who is sick in Capemaum, and the Lord’s rebuke (vv. 47, 48).
b. The nobleman’s repeated request and the Lord’s mighty act of healing the son who was at Capemaum (vv. 49, 50).
3. The nobleman and his household believe (vv. 50b-54).
a. As the nobleman goes his way believing, he is met by his servants, who tell him his son recovered at the very moment Jesus had spoken the word (vv. 50b-52).
b. His household believes as well (v. 53).
c. The notice that this is Christ’s second miracle (v. 54).
1. Explain the reason for Christ’s going to Galilee as it is given in verse 44. What “country” is referred to? (If the country is Galilee, why does the fact that a prophet has no honor in his own country serve as the reason for Christ’s going into Galilee?)
2. Explain the proverb “a prophet has no honor in his own country.” See Luke 4:24; Matthew 13:57; Jeremiah 11:21. What evil of the flesh is at work when we become familiar with the messengers of God’s Word?
3. How must we understand the reception given Him by the Galileans? Is it of true faith in Him, or are they curiosity seekers who are interested in Him only because of the popularity He gained at Jerusalem?
4. Why does the Holy Spirit remind us that Cana of Galilee was the place where He made water wine? What are the similarities between this miracle (the healing of the nobleman’s son) and the changing of the water into wine?
5. Who was this nobleman? What can we say about his position? A government official? A wealthy land owner?
6. Discuss the progression in the faith of the nobleman. In what state does he come to Jesus? Why does he come to Jesus? What does his request indicate about him? Compare him at that point to the centurion of Luke 7:1-10. Show how the Lord brought his faith to be grounded in the Word and not in signs.
7. What is the intent of the Lord’s word to him in verse 48?
8. Explain how the Word always has preeminence over signs and wonders, and that faith comes by the Word and not by signs and wonders. See Romans 10:17.
9. What divine attributes does Jesus show in the way He heals this son? How does this fit in with the emphasis of John’s gospel on the Deity of Christ?
10. Show the truth of the covenant from verse 53. How is the nobleman an example to us as parents to instill the truths of the gospel in our children?
11. Is there any significance in the notice of verse 54 that this is the second miracle that Jesus, did since coming out of Judea?